Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Antimacassar

I was once invited to the Lieutenant Governor"s for a state dinner with the president of Vorarlberg. I had never been to the Lieutenant Governor's before ,nor since, but at the time I and the pianist felt a little special, as if we had been singled out as "comers". In point of fact, when the truth came out, the dinner was a cast of one hundred and the content was a sprinkling of a middling mix of business, professional ,political and artistic without anyone particularly grand. We had a lot of fun. I, however, the several weeks in preparation, worried myself silly that I wasn't up on etiquette sufficiently to carry off this venture into society. I purchased Amy Vanderbilt's " Complete book of Etiquette" to teach myself a crash course in how to behave in heady company. I read the book from cover to cover assiduously! The book was written in 1952. It stated that a man should bathe at least once a week, and use a hair oil to groom himself well. The oil may have been macassar oil. Hence, of course, the need for the antimacassar. I think the penny dropped with me that even in the 1970's Amy's book was dated. I skipped her advice. The pianist found my panic stations somewhat amusing. My mother had antimacassars she inherited from my nanny, and she used them because in those days we applied Brylcream to our heads from time to time, only a little dab I believe, but enough to stain the back of the good chair or divan, without the antimacassar. There seems to be something elegant about a patterned crochet lace. We used to have some, as I recall, but the pianist ditched them when no one any longer had an oily head. We still use the lace doilies on the drink tray. The pianist is more practical and less affected than I am. Oh well! I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, "What kind of a man is interested in doilies?"

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